Both adhere to the teeth and contribute to gingivitis and gum disease. There is a clear difference between plaque and calculus and how they affect your oral health. Plaque is the soft sticky layer of acid producing bacteria. This forms on the teeth every 24 hours as a result of eating and drinking throughout the day. It is easily removed with daily brushing and flossing. When plaque is not removed daily with proper oral hygiene it can start to contribute to irritation and inflammation in the gums. The acid in the plaque is also what causes cavities.
When the plaque is left on the teeth for too long the minerals in your saliva begin to harden it to your teeth. When this happens it becomes Calculus or also known as tarter. Calculus unlike plaque us a harden substance that adheres to the teeth. The calculus builds up in layers and thickness over time. Like plaque it harbors toxic bacteria that irritates and causes gum to become inflamed. Over time this causes gum disease and recession of the gum tissue. Once the calculus is hardened to the teeth, it cannot be removed with just brushing and flossing. It will only come off with a professional dental cleaning. Depending on the amount of buildup, a special gum therapy may be required. If the calculus is allowed to remain on the teeth, over time the irritation and inflammation will lead to gingivitis and eventually gum disease. Gum disease is one of the major causes of tooth lose in adults.